DEAN SMITH was ‘knighted’ by Prince William after leading their beloved Aston Villa into the royal realms of the Premier League.
Goals from Anwar El Ghazi and John McGinn sealed Villa’s victory over Derby as Martyn Waghorn pulled one back for the Rams to make it a nervy finish for Wills & Co.
But when the full-time whistle went, the celebrations could begin.
As the future king jumped for joy with Villa Park hero John Carew, Villa’s social media crew were in great form.
Just minutes after promotion was confirmed, Villa tweeted a cartoon image of Prince William knighting Smith at Buckingham Palace.
The tweet said: “He led us back to where we belong, in front of royalty. Arise, Sir Dean Smith!”
But amid all the ticker-tape and Twitter bants, Smith shared a heartwarming story in his interview with Sky Sports.
Coming from a Villa-supporting family, today’s victory was extra special for the former Brentford boss.
I told Dad that the next time I saw him I would be a Premier League manager. He smiled.
His father Ron – who worked as a steward at Villa Park – suffers with dementia and lives in a care home, unaware that his son is managing the club they both love.
But Smith revealed: “I went to see him on Friday and he opened his eyes for a couple of minutes and I told him that the next time I saw him I would be a Premier League manager. He smiled.”
He was right.
Villa sat 13th at the beginning of March but produced a club-record ten wins on the bounce to get themselves in contention and finished off the job at Wembley.
Needless to say, it has not quite sunk in for Smith just yet.
He added: “It feels right we are a Premier League club because of the history and the fan base that we have.
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“The club has gone through some hard years and losing here in last season’s final was tough.
“I don’t know how it feels yet. The emotions came when I saw my family crying in the stands. It was a life-changing decision for me to come to this club.
“I isolated my feelings and was calm today. We had been playing must-win games for the past 15.”